PHOENIX, March 6, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Manufacturing Institute, a non-profit, non-partisan education and research affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), has joined University of Phoenix, a subsidiary of Apollo Group (NASDAQ: APOL), to offer the third annual Manufacturing Institute Scholarship program. In 2013, The Manufacturing Institute will award ten full-tuition scholarships to current or transitioning manufacturing employees and students completing community college or industry-recognized credentials in manufacturing. Each scholarship allows a prospective student the opportunity to complete an undergraduate or master's degree program at University of Phoenix. Recipients may choose to attend a University of Phoenix on-ground campus or may attend University of Phoenix online. "The American economy is resting on the shoulders of the manufacturing industry right now," said Jennifer McNelly, president of The Manufacturing Institute. "Manufacturing employers need to empower their employees through continuing education. Our efforts at the Manufacturing Institute, including the 2013 scholarship program, support manufacturers in attracting, qualifying and developing their workforce." The "skills gap" has become increasingly evident in recent years, hitting the manufacturing industry especially hard. Manufacturers are currently unable to fill nearly 600,000 skilled positions. In fact, a recent survey by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute found that nearly 70 percent of manufacturing companies nationwide are facing a moderate to severe shortage of available, skilled workers. The 2013 Manufacturing Institute Scholarship program aids the effort to close the skills gap, giving employers an avenue to encourage their workforce to attain educational credentials that will facilitate career success. "The skills gap in America is a growing concern," said Tim Welsh, Senior Vice President, National Industry Strategy Group at University of Phoenix. "For the first time in history, a generation of Americans may be less educated than their parents and grandparents. At University of Phoenix, we believe that it is crucial for educators and employers to join together to advance our workforce and our economy through growing the manufacturing industry." The Manufacturing Institute aims to research and support manufacturing excellence, innovation, and talent and deliver solutions to keep manufacturers in America globally competitive. The Manufacturing Institute is the authority on the attraction, qualification, and development of world-class manufacturing talent.